Advertisement

What is the difference between conventional and CT coronary angiography?

When cardiologists talk about coronary angiography, they usually mean conventional invasive angiography. It is called invasive because it involves puncturing the skin with a large needle; inserting a slender tube, or catheter, into an artery in the groin or wrist; threading the catheter into the heart; injecting contrast dye into the coronary arteries; viewing the arteries with x-rays and recording those images digitally.

During the procedure, patients are awake but sedated. Afterward, they must lie still for several hours while pressure is applied to the puncture wound used to insert the catheter. This is done to prevent excessive bleeding.

CT angiography is considered noninvasive, since the only puncture comes from the small needle used for placing an intravenous line in the hand or arm. The intravenous line will be used to inject contrast dye and, in some cases, medication to slow the heart rate. During the procedure, the patient lies on a table that glides through a large tube. This tube, which contains an x-ray camera, rotates around and around as it captures images of the heart in narrow sections called slices. A computer puts together all the data and creates detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels.

Invasive coronary angiography has been used for decades to see inside the arteries. It is considered the gold standard for diagnosing coronary artery disease, and is especially useful in higher-risk patients who are likely to need a procedure to open clogged coronary arteries.

CT angiography has made huge strides in recent years and, in some cardiology practices, is taking the place of nuclear stress testing for the initial evaluation of low- or intermediate-risk patients.

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Why Your Heart Loves Hershey's
Why Your Heart Loves Hershey's
Something about eating chocolate—it has such an instant feel-good effect. And it turns out there's a reason to feel good. Research suggests that spec...
Read More
6 Lifestyle Changes to Help Keep Your Heartbeat Steady
6 Lifestyle Changes to Help Keep Your Heartbeat Steady
A healthy heart usually beats around 60 to 100 times per minute, but it’s normal for your heart rate to increase when you’re stressed or while you’re ...
Read More
The Surprising Link Between Your Brain and Heart
The Surprising Link Between Your Brain and Heart
What’s good for your heart may also be good for your brain and your mood. A report in the Gallup-Sharecare State of American Well-Being series measure...
Read More
How Your Genes Could Affect Your Heartbeat
How Your Genes Could Affect Your Heartbeat
When a young, otherwise healthy person dies suddenly—while they’re playing a sport or even while they’re sleeping—an undiagnosed inherited or familial...
Read More

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.